The Island’s Red Shoes

Maria was only 9 years old when her father bough her the most beautiful red shoes in the  whole island. She would wear the shinny red shoes to church where she would notice glares and giggles from the little kids but she would always have her head high with pride. Maria came from a wealthy but humble family in the island where most could not afford to wear shoes not to mention fancy, shinny shoes that came all the way from Europe.

Maria’s father was a business man with vast amounts of acres of land filled with prosperous resources. He was very much involved in politics and spent most time either working on land or engaged with political aspirations that were shacking up the island’s quiet atmosphere. The whole island knew Maria’s father as the man who had helped build the first public transportation from distinct rural areas to the main city and port. Although, she would notice the kids often whispering regards about her, they would not dare to approach her with any comments. There was once a boy at Maria’s school who used to make fun of her florescent backpack and left Maria with an obnoxious cry. The teachers came rushing towards her to find what had happened and Maria would have only pointed her fingers at the boy, that was sufficient to whisk him away. Since that incident, the boy never dared to look at Maria and she would never acknowledge his presence of being important.

Maria’s mother came from a very wealthy and educated family on the contrary to her father, who never saw the importance of school, he believed that one can achieve success through the hard work of his bare hands. Her father also blamed education for corrupting the mind of young man who wanted to rebel against the treatment of the colonial power.He was not a man that would waste his time talking about ideologies as his wife’s brothers would do but he believe firmly in the act of doing. He was a visionary, whatever he would put his mind and hands to it he would surely achieve at great success.

Maria was very much spoiled by her father, she had a maid all to her self who was infatuated with dressing Maria like a doll. Joana, the young maid was the daughter of Paula, the main maid of the house whom had lived with Maria’s family for a very long time. Although Maria’s father was barely at home expect for lunch time, he insisted that her daughter would be beautifully dressed and presentable. This was very hard job for Joana as she was always finding that Maria was often dirty from her mysterious and imaginary plays. Secretly, Joana loved finding Maria unkempt, being a perfect excuse to play dress up with the most beautiful closet she had ever seen, filled with dresses and shoes bought from abroad.

Maria had 4 brothers who were not spoiled like her, they were free to do and play as they like and were not expected to be tidy at all times. Maria’s brother knew that she had great expectations laid by their parents so they would use this to their advantage. Often times, you would see the brothers teasing, fighting and confiscating Maria’s journal and running around while reading some of her poems. This would irritate Maria very much, she would cry and beg hysterically for them to stop. By the time Maria’s mother would notice the incident, she would find Maria laying on the floor with her brothers fighting like a professional wrestler. The brothers, who would always start the fights, would never get in trouble, however Maria would get sent to her room where she was not allowed to leave unless told so. The punishment would not brother her, as she could spend ours in the widow sill of her room writing poems  and plays made up with her imaginary friends.

Mafalda, was a very curious imaginary friend, she always wanted to know what Maria would write on her journal.

“What are you writing about this time Maria?”.

” My feelings towards people on this island.”

“What are your thoughts about the people?”

“I don’t know, I can’t understand why I have all these nice things and the kids in my school do not”.

“So, you want the Portuguese to be overthrown, you are in favor of independence?” Mafalda was a clever little imaginary friend, she was informed about everything.

“I don’t know, Papa tells me that the Portuguese are our friends and the rebels will sink our country towards misery, I heard him say that on the phone.”

“Do you think that’s true?”asked Mafalda.

“I am not sure, I just wish that all the kids could afford to wear shoes so they could leave mine alone.” Maria laid her head on the window sill with bewilderment over her feelings and continue saying to Mafalda. “I wish, I didn’t have all of these things so that all the kids in my school would treat me normal.”

There was a knock on Maria’s door and Mafalda quickly evaporated into thin area.

“Maria, you didn’t change into your knew dress, we are running late to the school’s play.” Joana said it with an almost whispering tune so not to let anyone hear the reason for their tardiness. “No, wear those shiny red shoes, your father bought you from Portugal.”

Maria hated those red shoes. Every time she would wear it all she could see were people whispering to each other ears with comments that she knew where about her. But Maria didn’t have time to think, she was late and she was the main act of her school Christmas play. She loved to sing and be on the stage, it was her world of wonderland. When she was on stage she would dose off where she would imagine floating in the clouds way up high and the people on stage would shortly seem like ants down bellow.

Everyone had clapped and stood up by her performance which seemed to be one of her best, marked in people’s memory. As she rushed from the stage towards her father that was sitting with the audience, Maria’s shoes got stuck on a crack of the stare case where she bumped her head so violently that she lost consciousness for a little moment. Maria had woken up from a dark dream and with confusion saw everyone gathered around her, making sure she was fine. Maria, immediately looked down towards her shoes with great hatred. Since, that bare moment she never laid her eye on those red shoes where she had hid it in the darkest corner of her closet. From that day, it was said that Maria had lost her ability to sing. Since then, something had changed in her, her imaginary friend had moved on to another innocent child. Maria would pass most her times writing about  her emotions and finding out what to make of them .

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Hidden Gem in Al Maadi, Cairo

If you are an expat family living in the old area of Maadi, one of the things that you might notice right away, is the difficulties of finding any public playgrounds for kids to play.  One of the hardest transitions for me, has been the lack of public green spaces for kids to burn off their energy.  Everything here seems to be privatized, where you need to pay an expensive membership in order to belong to any sporting clubs. There are a couple of public places where you have to pay a small fee but it might not be in the best of conditions and/or safe for kids to play in. Egypt does not have many public green spaces but in old Maadi you can find areas with gorgeous villas surrounded by exotic and local plants, trees and a couple of facilities that offer play areas for kids.

I found this literally hidden gem (since there are no signs at the door) online while searching for kid’s friendly coffee places. I came across Osana Family Welness or what I like to call “the pink door” or “the place” and fell absolutely in love with the place.

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The Osana Family center is a facility that focuses on holistic approaches to health, mainly through many types of yoga, massages, acupuncture, facial and they even take care of your psychological health with couple therapy and many more. On their website, under their vision statement Osana said;

Osana aims to take holistic living to new horizons within the local community. By facilitating wellness in all its forms, we promote a lifestyle that exists beyond its walls and hope to assist those pursuing a wholesome life in achieving it.

This place also has great, fresh, organic, healthy food all made from a chef in house but most importantly they sell one of the best coffees in the area.

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My favorite part about Osana is the openness, it is surrounded by greenery and various spaces to sit and chill with a playground and a sand pit where kids can play away. To top it off, you don’t have to pay any entrance fee which is so rare around this area and the security guy at the gate is the most genuine and helpful person I’ve met at a working place thus far. Osana has a great working culture where all employees are qualified and trained to deal with customers with respect and in a polite way.

This is a truly special place and  no wonder why it is gaining it’s popularity and success through word of mouth. I can go on and on, talking wonders about this place that you would think I am getting payed for. The truth is, I have all the respect for a business that carters towards the overall well being of its community.

If you are in the area than come by and see all the hype for yourself. Make sure you check out their website Osana Welness Center. If you think they don’t offer what you want, at bare minimal, it is a place where you are literally chill, read a book and enjoy nature in this chaotic, brick jungle.

Homemade Vegan Granola Bars

Anyone who knows me knows that I love, love, love snacks. I barely even eat my meals, I usually just snack away, all day long. Well, with the exception to breakfast. I loooooove breakfast, in fact, I can just eat breakfast for all my meals..and that includes a cuppa coffee too. So lately, I’ve been trying to cut down from eating outside, mainly because I don’t trust the sanitation factor that goes on in most Egyptian popular restaurants. I also have been paranoid about by snacks and what effects it has on our body especially to kids. Since I am addicted to snacking with anything that has flours like bread, cookies, donuts, you name it, there isn’t anything that I will not like. I’ve been trying very hard to trick my snacking habits into something that is healthy, fulfilling and good for me. I guess, what I am trying to get at is that I’ve created an awesome recipe for granola bars that any gluten lovers like myself will sure to love. I can’t say it’s gluten free but it’s definitely vegan. I’m sure, you can substitute the flour that goes into these granola bars with almond and coconut flour. I would have opted for that option but I haven’t found any place that sells those types of flours in Egypt. That’s the good thing about this recipe, you can totally personalize with anything that you have around or whatever is local around you. Before I get to the steps and the recipe it self, I must apologize if this posts will come out immature. This is the first time I write a post like this and I don’t even know how to do it. I don’t have any pictures to demonstrate the steps but I will share a picture of what these granola bars look like taken by my phone 🤕.

What you will need for the granola:

Baking Pan

Cookie 🍪 sheets

One bowl 🍲

Spoon 🥄

Ingredients:

You don’t really have to measure but I’ll give you a sense of how much I put of each ingredient.

Oats

Flour

Black honey 🍯 or bee 🐝 honey 🍯

Oil, it can be olive oil, vegggie or coconut 🥥

Those are the main ingredients but if you like you can put anything else at your possession, such as, nuts 🥜, chocolate 🍫 chips, raisins, vanilla, cinnamon powder, cocoa and coconut 🥥 flakes. I also add, chia seeds to make into a energy booster snack. 😉

Sorry for all those emojis, I’m writing this post from my phone and I am currently obsessed.

Steps:

In one bowl mix all the main ingredients together.

For every cup flour put half cup of any flour you have. The end product should look gluey and sticky.

Add 1/4 of black honey (I am totally bull sh*tting these measurements). Like I said the end product should be gluey and sticky as if you are making chocolate chip cookies.

Add 1/4 oil of your choice. Again bull sh*t as long as it’s looking gluey.

Now, that you’ve mixed it all, you can add any flavoring that you want. I added what I had around the house and that was chia seeds and raisins. I also added this spice that Egyptian use a lot in their baking and as tea which in Arabic it’s called “yansoon”. Comment below if you know the name of “yansoon” in English.

Place in a baking pan with the cooking sheet and spread the formula out as flat as possible. Since the mixture does not rise with the heat you will have to spread it out in a thin layer.

The oven can be at any temperature and the mixture should be ready once you smell it and it has browned.

It’s very important that you cut the formula as soon as it’s out of the oven since it will harden after 5-10 min at room temperature.

Now it’s ready to indulge, enjoy!

I hope you have found this post is useful and that you have tried it for your self. Let me know if you’ve tried this recipe and/or if you have other healthy snack alternatives.

Bon appetite!